Fragments of lunar rock were brought back to earth on Apollo 11. The president of the United States at the time, Richard Nixon, gifted pieces of it to some 135 countries that were friendly to the U.S., including Costa Rica.
The fragments in Costa Rica are now on permanent exhibition at the National Museum, in the history room. There is a protected acrylic sphere housing the tiny rock fragments that delight space lovers. They were previously displayed in the Central Bank and the National Library.
The samples are encapsulated and have therefore not been studied by local scientists. Experts who studied other fragments from the moon have been impressed. Findings changed ideas of how planets were formed. It is now known that they did not have a cold start.
Joseph Gutheinz Jr., a retired special agent of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and his students are on a mission to find the whereabouts of fragments gifted to Afghanistan, Cyprus, Ireland, Libya, Malta, Nicaragua, Honduras, Romania and Spain, among others. Some have been reported stolen, missing or destroyed.